Schistidium strictum

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Identification notes

In hill country, well-grown Schistidium strictum often advertises its presence with somewhat lurid colours – its robust, straggling shoots are typically quite yellow-orange to chestnut brown, and they look smooth, with overlapping leaves.

There’s no avoiding leaf sectioning when confirming the identity of Schistidium species under the microscope, so get a new razorblade ready. S. strictum belongs to a small group of uncommon British/Irish species that have papillae on the dorsal side of the upper leaf lamina. This group does not include the very common Schistidium crassipilum or S. apocarpum.

So first, look for laminal papillae on the dorsal side of the upper leaf i.e. the back of the leaf. This is not as easy as it sounds, for they are low and quite scattered. The ventral surface i.e. upperside of the leaf usually has few papillae.

The very short capsule (about as wide as long) is quite distinctive and can easily be seen in the field, but you’ll need to examine one under the compound microscope to confirm that its mid-exothecial cells are mainly wider than long, and that the red peristome teeth are densely papillose and have have slit-like perforations (sometimes they don’t).

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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